David Fernandez reports from Texas.
This past fall in San Antonio, Texas truck drivers working for Oak Farms Dairy plant took the leap in fighting to form a union at their workplace. Their goal: for all workers to be able to negotiate for better wages, better hours, safety conditions, health care, and to have a democratic method of collectively bargaining with their employer. The response: months of captive audience meetings, intimidation tactics by employers, and the hiring of professional union busters to intimidate Oak Farms drivers from voting to form a union. One driver was pushed out of his position early in the organizing drive, but his dedication and passion led him to continue to take an active role in engaging his coworkers to continue fighting, even during his time of intense economic struggle.
The drivers fought long and hard for months, but when the vote finally came, intimidated employees backed down from voting for the union in fear of losing their jobs. At the end of the day, Oak Farms‘ big pockets and crackdown on workers’ rights had won…for now.
Feeling deflated after the vote, workers and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union came together to decide how to continue the drive, channeling the passion that so many of the dedicated drivers of Oak Farms still held to fight for democracy in their workplace. This was no time to quit and they knew that the workers united can truly never be defeated. They decided to come together to recruit fellow workers to become members of Working America, which will let them share a few of the benefits and some of the shared voice that union membership provides. In a joint training with Working America, they learned about the benefits of Working America membership and developed an outreach strategy to connect their co-workers with these benefits.
These dedicated drivers have come together to stay engaged in fighting for democracy in their work place, and to fight for the broader issues affecting working families including the attacks on education, health care, voting rights, and corporate accountability. By reaching out to others and welcoming them into the movement, these community leaders have joined a network of over 3 million Working America members nationwide to fight for good jobs and democracy across the country, starting with their local San Antonio community.
From Oak Farms to corporate greed, these empowered drivers will continue to build the community power to fight back against the attacks on working families at home and abroad.